2016: Some of my Top 3’s

We’re now a few days into 2017 and to be honest Christmas, New Year’s Eve and 2016 itself feels so long ago! Such an impact does four days back into the swing of work have, that it has the power to almost completely eradicate the couple of weeks of “mellow” socialising that preceded it.

Although many moan about some things that 2016 brought to the world (myself included!.. Brexit.. Deaths… Trump.. Terror..) there were indeed some highlights. I recently took over the @Bristol52 Twitter account, an account where a different person from Bristol, UK tweets their way through the week. Once of the highlights of my week on @Bristol52 was feeding a discussion about the good things that happened in 2016, rather focusing on the looming negatives. I wanted to and share the top 3 things that people said were good about their year:

  1. A lady helped her dyslexic son to find a passion for reading
  2. 50 million trees were planted by volunteers in India in just 24 hours!
  3. People got married, had children, laughed, cried. They lived and that’s a great thing that happens every year

Now, time for some of my personal top 3’s of 2016. Continue reading

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Split – too much to see, too little time

It’s my own fault, I know. Every time I plan on visiting a new destination I try and cram in as many places to see as possible. In my first week in Croatia I had fitted in Dubronik, Hvar and daytrips to Mostar and Kotor. The second week was not to be any lighter on desitnations: Split, Zadar, Plitvice Lakes and Zagreb. But Split was by far the most rushed portion of my trip. Just one and a half days at the seaside resort was not enough, particularly when I spent one of them on a trip to swim in waterfalls… More on that later though.

I planned on leaving Hvar on the early catamaran to make the most of my first day in Split, but when I went to buy the ticket I found it fully booked. Instead I had to get the second one of the day which got me to Split in the lunchtime heat. Armed with my map I was headed to my hostel which was deemed to be the best hostel in Croatia – Split Guesthouse & Hostel. It did not disappoint! The host, Josko, is one of the most welcoming people I have ever met. It really felt like a home from home staying at his guesthouse, everything from G’ma’s Nutella pancakes in the morning, to Josko arriving with massive pizzas for the guests to share before we headed out on a pub crawl. Honestly, the people staying there were so much fun, but Josko really makes this the ideal place to stay if you are travelling through Split. His recommendations are out of this world, no wonder the entire place is decorated with notes from his past guests singing his praises!

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Hvar, more than just a party island

I knew when I went to Croatia that I wanted to go island hopping. On board a yacht or self guided via ferry, I did not mind how. However I also knew I had just two weeks in this magical country and there were so many other places I wanted to visit. I had to compromise (with myself!) and decided to make Hvar the only island I would spend significant time on, so it really needed to sparkle to help me satiate my island dreams.

I arrived fresh off of the catamaran from Dubrovnik. I was lucky enough to get a seat at the bow, looking out of the wide glass door, admiring and longing for Dubrovnik as it disappeared into the horizon. The three hour journey time flew by as we stopped at various islands on the way to Hvar as the sun set in our wake. It was with was with excitement, and some hunger pangs, that I stepped off of the boat onto the harbour and was immediately enchanted.

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“Those who are looking for paradise on Earth should come and see Dubrovnik”

Hell. Yes. George Bernard Shaw was spot on when he described Dubrovnik as heaven on Earth. What a truly, truly stunning place.

When I was flying to Dubrovnik, in between sleeping as I’d barely slept in my overnight traipse from Bristol to London Gatwick via public transport, I wondered if Dubrovnik would live up to my expectations. In planning my trip I’d spent an age reading blogs, looking at Pinterest boards, lusting over my Lonely Planet guide. I had this beautiful vision of what Dubrovnik would look like in my head, could the real thing live up to the idyllic coastal town I was envisioning? Continue reading

Croatia: my 2016 Mediterranean fantasy

Hello everyone! It’s been a few weeks of silence from me, but I’ve been busy travelling! My Croatia trip finally arrived in the middle of September and what a trip it was! Croatia was everything I wanted, if it cost me a little more ££ than planned (thanks Brexit). I seriously could spend my life exploring and relaxing along the Dalmatian coast, perhaps chartering a yacht.. We can all dream!

I’ll put up a series of posts about the destinations I crammed into my itinerary over the next couple of weeks, but here’s a cheeky peek at some of my highlights in photo form!

I hope you enjoy reading the more detailed posts coming soon 🙂

lisa sig

Floating on a summer’s breeze

Summer in the UK is one of those glorious, topsy-turvy seasons that mean you’re either going to be bathed in adoring, warm summer sunshine, or drowned in a clammy, grey cloud of misery. Ok, so that might b a bit dramatic, but it’s the nature of summer in England that meant it has taken over 18 months for me to redeem a wonderful raffle prize: my first ever hot air balloon flight!

Back in December 2014 I was one of many who entered the Father Bristmas charity competition run by my ex-colleague Jake Johnson. He runs a highly successful Twitter project called Bristol52 where a different person/organistaion from Bristol tweets each week, with the idea that followers see a little bit of Bristol that they usually may not find out about. As part of Bristol52, Jake organises a charity raffle where local, sometimes national, businesses donate prizes to the draw. The followers of Bristol52 then nominate local charities and ultimately pick the winning charity who keep all of the donations us hopeful raffle participants provide.

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Ashton Court Mansion, with balloons already flying ahead of us

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It’s almost time!

In sixteen days’ time I shall be off on my summer holiday trip to Croatia! I CANNOT WAIT! Two weeks of sunny relaxed bliss, exploring ancient towns, turquoise waters, vibrant cities and alluring lakes. It sounds like heaven!

I first went to the region in 2014 when I took myself off to Slovenia to celebrate my birthday. I completely fell in love with everything about the country. I am hoping that Croatia, being Slovenia’s neighbour, treats me just as well and that I come back with that grandiose feeling you get when you’ve been somewhere totally awesome!

Now, I generally try to be quite spontaneous, but fitting in everything that I want to do can be a struggle. In real life, not just on my travels I hasten to add! There’s just so much to do, and so little time!

So I’ve got my main itinerary planned for this trip too: I’ve read the relevant section of my Lonely Planet guide, I’ve read countless blog posts and spoken with numerous friends who have already visited Croatia. I’m ready, I know what the bare minimum I want to see/do is, and I’ve still got enough time to be flexible and do those spur of the moment things that hopefully I’ll never forget!

My route is shown on this map. I’m flying to Dubrovnik, and out of Zagreb and have two whole weeks to explore my chosen destinations. From Dubrovnik I will be making two day trips, one self guided to Kotor in Montenegro and one on an organised tour to Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina. From Dubrovnik I head to Hvar, Split, Zadar, Plitvice lakes and Zagreb before flying home.

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I’m really looking forward to exploring another new destination, getting three countries closer to my challenge of visiting 30 before I’m 30 and to spending 2 weeks in my own company. It’s been a manic few months at work and a proper break is exactly what I need. Although, judging by how many destinations I plan on fitting in, it may not exactly be a relaxing break!

If you’ve been to any of the places I’m visiting, please feel free to share your tips!

lisa sig

Upfest 2016: Urban art around Bristol

Living in Bristol is living in a melee of different summer festivals. Every weekend there is something new to do, from food festivals, to music festivals, to art, to community activity. It really is great to live in a city which thrives on diversity and hosts so many, often free, events for it’s residents to experience and be a part of .

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One of my favourites for sure! Zeus, by Pichiavo

Upfest is one of those such events. It is Europe’s largest street art and graffiti festival and offers visitors the chance to see artists from around the world create their masterpieces all around Bedminster. Upfest started in 2008 and has grown massively since then, with over 30,000 people visiting over a weekend. 2016 was the first year I was free to explore the festival, so I layered on some SPF 50 and headed onto the sunny streets of south Bristol. Continue reading

Look up, look around you, take in the beauty that surrounds you

My trip to Budapest in November 2016 was one that I will cherish, and has propelled the city into my top 5 mini-break locations. It was a solo trip; I flew over alone with no plan other than to befriend people in my hostel and the locals where I can. Travelling alone can be a really wonderful thing; there’s no compromise for starters. You want to go to the baths? Sure, go now. You want to lie in and recover from that hangover? Yep, do that too. I find that solo travel enabless me to meet new people from many walks of life, but usually with a shared passion for life, and that has to be one of my favourite parts of the way I travel.

This post is the second about my trip to Budapest, if you’d like to read the first then you can find it here. I’m going to pick up the story on the morning of my third day in the city. Well, by morning I mean lunchtime! I had to sleep off my large hangover from the previous nights’ antics in the ruin bars, so I was in no fit state to do anything until 1pm; so unlike me as I don’t like to waste my mornings!

So, due to my self-inflicted pain I only really managed to ramble around the Jewish district again. I took in some of the creative street art that was visible on the side of the buildings, and enjoyed getting lost in the little streets. I heeded some advice from a friend who had told me to “look up”, as this meant I was able to see some of the more intricate stonework in the architecture on the upper levels of buildings. When Hungary was occupied by the Soviet Union they removed much of the “frivolous” architectural features at street level so you really do need to look up in Budapest to appreciate what is there to see.  Continue reading

“It’s beautiful here. They said that of course, that Budapest is beautiful. But it is in fact almost ludicrously beautiful.”

I stumbled across this quote by Anthony Bourdain when I was researching my trip to Budapest in November 2015. I’d done that thing that my friends know me for; booking flights on a moment’s whim (next whimsical bookings: Croatia and Japan). So I had 5 days in Budapest to plan, and I was so excited about exploring this historical city.

I was lucky enough to be visiting at the start of the festive season, so I enjoyed my first evening in Budapest wandering around the Christmas market that was erected in Vörösmarty Square. It was wonderful; I stopped to enjoy a local band play festive tunes to the gathered families, I ate hearty goulash out of a bread bowl, watched men manipulating hot iron straight out of a furnace, and admired the sparkly lights and row after row of small stalls offering handmade trinkets. I also treated myself to the famous Hungarian Chimney Cake (otherwise known as Kurtoskalaces); thin pastry ribbon wrapped around wood and baked over hot coals, coated in cinnamon sugar that caramelises as it bakes. It was amazing, and I had one a couple of times during my trip! I wandered back to my hostel via the River Danube and stared in wonder at the Buda side of the city. Did you know Buda is the western side and Pest the eastern side of the city, separated by the Danube?

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